Ayn Rand

The Nation *Gets* It: The Real Problem in Today's America is Ayn Rand Cult

|

Over at Mediaite, Andrew Kirell notes The Nation's holiday season subscription pitch, which slags Ayn Rand thusly.

Har har har.

Because lord knows the real problem these days is the outsized influence of the authoress of Atlas Shrugged.

Because as we all know that Rand wanted federal spending (under Republicans and Democrats) to double in nominal terms and to end up staying above $3.5 trillion a year; she hoped that a liberal progressive president would declare the right to unilaterally kill anyone he says is a threat to the good ol' U.S. of A.; she lobbied for a conservative-majority Supreme Court to rule that the government can't just regulate whatever existing commere there is but can force also force citizens to engage in commerce; and like The Nation in a recent article, she fretted that the Communist Chinese are insidiously taking over the American university system.

Yeah, Ayn Rand and good old Uncle Norm are the problem in 21st-century America!

Do yourself—and Reason—a favor and subscribe to the magazine of Free Minds and Free Markets. It's less than $15 a year and it goes to keep the lights burning bright here at Reason.com.

NEXT: With Obamacare, The Worst May Be Yet To Come

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Its certainly what my brother would like me to believe. “They” think about her far more than I do and I am a big admirer of her work / ideas.

    1. They’re sort of the Shrike of the opinion-journo world. They spend way more time wringing hands over the things we never think about.

      1. I am a fan of Ayn Rand – you may be surprised to know that.

        I consider Darwinism, Atheism, and Capitalism to be the 3-legged stool of rationality.

        1. I wasn’t really referring to any latent fandom of Rand herself, I was more referring to your fascination with Bush, Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, the Christian right, and several other things that no one here is really interested in.

          1. And they chopped that stool to pieces.

            1. So do you!

            2. You need more fiber.

        2. I consider Darwinism, Atheism, and Capitalism to be the 3-legged stool of rationality.

          So what are you saying? That rationality consists of Darwinism, Atheism, and Capitalism? That Darwinism, Atheism, and Capitalism support rationality?

          That metaphor is very, very broken.

          1. No. A better phrase would be “applied rationality”.

            An educated Western person would come to those rational principles with experience.

            Yes, Western, but not exclusive to.

            1. Wow, youre still stupid.

          2. Not really. His comment made perfect sense. It’s your comprehension that is broken.

          3. Not really. His comment makes perfect sense. It is your comprehension that is broken.

        3. There’s a stool involved in your thinking, for sure, but it’s closer to the porcelain than the three-legged variety.

          1. Or fecal.

        4. I prefer one legged stools, as they require some user participation.

          1. “Wolecraft calls it the’stoole of repenting,’ and among the common people it was jocularly known as ‘riding the one legged horse.'”

        5. “Surprise” doesn’t begin to describe it. I just shit my pants. Then I looked out the window and there were pigs…flying!

          Still, those are good things to believe in.

  2. It’s amazing the number of people who learned about Rand from a drunken frat brother one evening and who are forever lecturing those of us who have read the damn thing.
    Hey, Francisco! Go change the damn Times Square sign!

    1. Kind of like Paul Verhoven and Starship Troopers.

  3. The first question you should ask someone who slags Atlas Shrugged is “Have you read it?” Because, even though you may have legitimate gripes with Rand’s philosophy or novels, most people I hear slagging Atlas Shrugged don’t know the first thing about what the book is about. I’m even more befuddled by those who slag The Fountainhead.

    1. http://capitalism.aynrand.org/…..-rand-101/ Case in point: Rachel Maddow.

      1. But…but…hip lesbian Rhodes scholar, Caleb.

        1. What does Kris Kristofferson have to do with this?

        2. Rhodes scholar, that just reeks of the death of civilization.

      2. Rachel Maddow —

        In Ayn Rand’s novel, she leads her readers to see the wealthiest people as heroes, heroes that must be protected. . . . The rich are heroes and everybody else is a taker. The more the rich have, the better. The better for everyone. That is not fiscal conservatism either. It is something else.

        I where glasses, and I got a cunt! That gives me carte blanche!

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_1VmC_P2Nc

        1. I have the same problems with Hicks that I do with Carlin and David Cross (in fact, they’re all three pretty much the same comedian). But Hicks was 1000x funnier than either Carlin or Cross, who just come off as curmudgeons.

        2. In Ayn Rand’s novel, she leads her readers to see the wealthiest people as heroes, heroes that must be protected. . . . The rich are heroes and everybody else is a taker. The more the rich have, the better. The better for everyone. That is not fiscal conservatism either. It is something else.

          Has a prog ever accurately described Ayn Rand’s work? It’s like they build up a Phantom Rand in their minds and go to war with her while completely misunderstanding her actual arguments.

          1. To my knowledge modern progressives never accurately describe the work of any philosopher or economist whose works stand in opposition to statism in any of its varients. But, to be frank, most progressives don’t even describe the work of progressive philosophers and economists with any great degree of accuracy. Intellectual accuracy or consistency is not a hallmark of the modern progressive movement. I suppose it is easier to rely on strawmen and ad hominems than engage in honest discourse based on faithful and accurate descriptions of the works and ideas, both progressive and non-progressive, that provide the foundation of today’s philosophical, economic and political debate in the US.

            1. Amen 🙂

          2. There’s a fantastic article on the political divide and why it’s that way here in Reason at https://reason.com/archives/201…..n-this-way

            It shows that conservatives understand liberals, but those who are very liberal don’t understand conservatives.

            This is simple research (unlike a recent news reports that conservatives are that way because of low effort thought, and determined from interviewing people in a bar – http://2012election.procon.org…..m-2012.pdf which all the liberal MSM reported). In this research, participants answered a set of questions, then answered as they believed conservatives would answer, and how liberals would answer.

            Of course, you’ve never heard of this study. And the reason is liberals prefer the vision in the head of how the world works, and ignore reality when it conflicts. Thus typical liberal journalists will start reading this and quit reading because they don’t believe it, and they’ll forget about it. If they remember anything, it was they wasted time reading a bogus study.

        3. No way did she read it then, or she’s dumber than I thought. Eddie Willers, and other regular working class people, were spoken(written?) of highly.
          The book had nothing to do with rich vs poor.

          1. So long as her followers get the right message, ‘Ayn Rand bad, capitalism bad, state good, redistribution good’, she could give a rat’s ass about the truth.

          2. Remember: they are projecting their own obsessions onto Rand. And what are they obsessed with? The rich and class warfare.

            It’s always projection with them. Always.

    2. Reminds me of an article that was making the rounds a while back. Some professor had devoted quite a bit of time to studying Rand’s writings in order to debunk her philosophy. What did he end up using as his coup de grace against her? The fact that primitive societies are almost universally collectivist. You really can’t make these idiots up.

      1. The fact that primitive societies are almost universally collectivist. You really can’t make these idiots up.

        The whole march of human progress throughout most of history was from collectivism to individualism. Once the individual was given rights separate from the collective, humanity suddenly reached undreamed of heights of progress and wealth.

        That’s why I think progressives are actually VERY reactionary. They’re essentially taking on the collective viewpoint of stone aged tribesmen.

        1. They’re feudalists, only instead of a lord of the manor, they have a central planning committee.

          1. They’re feudalists, only instead of a lord of the manor, they have a central planning committee.

            THIS.

      2. I disagree with the conclusion, actually. I’m not sure that the research supports the idea that all or even most primitive societies are collectivist. In fact, historically, that seems to be far from the case. The idea of personal property rights appears to be the driving force behind the codification of laws in ancient societies, and I don’t see how that would change in the modern world in those rare examples of primitive societies which currently exist. Maybe he was mistaking the fact that property rights weren’t always extended throughout the whole of society for the idea that they weren’t recognized at all.

        1. your mistake is that you assume that the societies which codified the laws were the primitive ones. The primitive societies were the pre-recorded history semi-nomadic tribal ones Circa 12,000-1200 B.C. (depending on which region of the world)

          The development of dark age Greece to classical Greece is a wonderful example of this as related to us by Thucydides. basically dark age Greeks were still semi-nomadic constantly preoccupied with trying to scratch out a meager existence, not until sea trade arose (and with it specialization of society which only trade can allow for) were Greeks able to permanently settle their cities and develop the civilization that the western world is based off of.

    3. don’t know the first thing about what the book is about.

      I originally found that out by asking someone presenting himself as an expert, “Who is Eddie Willers?”
      “No asshole, it’s ‘Who is John Galt?'”
      “I know that, but if you know the book, Who is Eddie Willers?
      Not a clue.

      1. I originally found that out by asking someone presenting himself as an expert, “Who is Eddie Willers?”
        “No asshole, it’s ‘Who is John Galt?'”
        “I know that, but if you know the book, Who is Eddie Willers?”
        Not a clue.

        LOL. I’ll use that next time.

        1. I’m usually not that original. I just went through it enough times, and nobody was more shocked than me when it came out my mouth. Or that it worked.

      2. Yeah that is great. I will use this too. I am not a huge Rand fan but I think there is a great deal of good stuff in both the Fountainhead and AS. She “gets” collectivism and why it’s evil.

        1. I’m a big fan of her philosophical construction, and many/most of her ideas. Her fiction, less so. Her treatment of the people in her life, least. Then again, they decided to put up with her.

        2. She escaped the Soviet Hell-hole, so she had more than a bit of first hand experience.

          -jcr

    4. She gets a lot of flack for calling the unproductive in society “moochers,” but didn’t the Soviet Union call unproductive people “parasites?”

      1. …”didn’t the Soviet Union call unproductive people “parasites?”

        And business owners.

      2. http://tinyurl.com/lzyfnwm

        Yep.

        In the Soviet Union, which declared itself a workers’ state, every adult able-bodied person was expected to work until official retirement. Thus unemployment was officially and theoretically eliminated. Those who refused to work, study or serve in another way risked being criminally charged with social parasitism (Russian: ???????????).

        1. And you still hear similar rhetoric on Democratic Underground.

    5. Yep.

      What really pisses me off is that I made it through high school and college without ever having heard of her, much less reading her, so I’m pretty sure most of the people who mock her have never read her. They think she would be in favor of things like TARP and the GM bailout.

      1. Didn’t you know? There is no difference between libertarianism and crony capitalism. This is what some progs of my acquaintance actually believe.

        1. A view shared by the newest member of Seattle’s city council (cross-posted from the PM links, FYI)

          Click with care, I hate the though of giving this article more pageviews than it deserves:

          Link

          Money quote:

          You also hear people saying, well, it’s “crony capitalism” or it’s “disaster capitalism” or some other capitalism. Well, the fact is, you know, they’re all dancing around [that] this is capitalism ? It’s not built into the system that the goal is to ensure that socially responsible life is possible. The goal is to maximize profits for those who already have wealth ?

          The reality is that capitalism rewards the biggest corporations and it tends toward monopoly. That is what capitalism is.

          I mean, she’s a professor of economics, that must mean she really knows what she’s talking about.

          1. “The reality is that capitalism rewards the biggest corporations and it tends toward monopoly.”

            That’s the reason that GM is the largest corporation in the world!

            1. And why it has had such an easy time dealing with Japanese competitors.

          2. “The goal is to maximize profits for those who already have wealth ?”

            Wow, they really believe that all rich people were always rich and that none of them did anything to deserve it, and that all poor people wouldn’t be poor if only these rich people weren’t rich. LOL I can’t stand it anymore.

            1. Wow, they really believe that all rich people were always rich

              A prog once ridiculed me for believing the “myth” that not all rich people were always rich.

            2. I actually asked a friend that once, whether he really believed what you said. He does. Dear god…

          3. For future reference, you can use this http://www.donotlink.com/
            to keep from upping a site’s googlage by linking to it. Combine that with an ad blocker and they shouldn’t make money off of it either

    6. As a work of fiction, AS may be the most two dimensional work I’ve ever read. The Fountainhead, while in need of an editor to kill off all characters who decide to engage in multipage soliloquys, is far better. Atlas Shrugged was written to beat her ideas into people too enamored with their intelligences to quit. At that length, loggorheic schizophrenics stumble into two or three decent scenes as well.

      (And I say this as someone who is not an opponent of either books, and find her philosophy only ridiculous around the edges.)

      1. I don’t disagree with any of that. I read the first couple of pages of Galt’s speech, then just skipped by the rest of it, thinking “Enough already! I get it!”

        On the other hand, re: 2 dimensional characters, Pelosi and Lizzie Warren would fit right in AS.

        1. Fiction is supposed to provide depth that the real world too often lacks.

        2. Philosophy Bro summed up Galt’s speech:

          “If you don’t think the entire world is completely fucked, you’re not paying attention. Yeah, it’s pretty bad out there. But until you realize why things are so out of hand, it’s only going to get worse. So listen the fuck up.

          Rocks don’t have morality because they’re not alive. Plants can’t be criminals because they can’t make choices. (…) And since bros are the smartest fucking things in the world, we survive by using our brains. When bros think, they live, and they find happiness. (…) Rational men are happy men, which is why free trade is so fucking sweet – it lets two thinking bros make a deal, and trade what they have for what they want. Guess who comes out ahead when two bros trade: Both bros. Otherwise, they just wouldn’t trade.

          On the other hand, ‘sacrifice’ is fucking stupid, and no thinking being would do it. Don’t try to tell me it’s ‘right’ to give up what I have so someone else can get what they want. (…) NEWSFLASH: I earned my shit. Before I could have things, I had to make things; if they don’t have anything valuable, it’s because they don’t make anything valuable, which falls right over here into what I like to call the “Not My Fucking Problem” column. ”

          The rest here:

          http://www.philosophybro.com/2…..aking.html

          1. thx, I read it.
            Full derp was reached only 3 comments in.

            “Mathieu.p.yJanuary 14, 2011 at 6:45 AM
            That philosophy is horrible and misfounded. The worlds elite are positioned without burden, which has been given to the lower classes. The only way we could ever have a free market is if everyone started from scratch and all the old money made from slave trading, capital slavery, taxation of the lower and middle class, warfare, etc was dissolved.

            Even then a free market doesn’t encourage people to do better, it only encourages them to make profit. The more profit the more available trade, so why not take the low route and cheat people and undermine and abuse the resources of others?

            As for Rand’s novel, I liked the story of Atlas Shrugged but I dislike the philosophy.”

      2. I believe that every “soliloquy” is essential to the character’s development. Rearden needed to hear “The Money Speech” in order to move forward – Any educational benefit the reader may get out of those types of passages is coincidental.

    7. I read it but I wasn’t fond of it overall. It was a long hard slog that wasn’t the best fiction writing and it just kept saying the same thing over and over in an overtly preachy way.

    8. It is a hell of a long book, and I’ll admit after I understood what the big speech was about I skipped over most of the rest of it, it was tad bit longer than it needed to be.

  4. Damn. I just finished writing an article about how the big problem in today’s America is the Paleo Diet.

    1. Wrong! It’s trans-fats! And salt!

      1. I was going Contrarian.

    2. I keep fit on a ratio of about 35% meat, 45% vegetables, 20% carbs. Hate it that beer is mostly carbs. The best thing in the world would be.

      1. Bacon has no carbs.

      2. I keep fit on a ratio of about 35% meat, 45% vegetables, 20% carbs. Hate it that beer is mostly carbs. The best thing in the world would be.

        I’m more LCHF than Paleo, mostly because I have to unless I want to die soon, and have my body be too big to fit in a casket. Saw two friends do that in the last three years. No thanks.
        Besides, these backribs I cooked Sunday are still awesome.

      3. you need fruit and should probably add in some dairy as well. Variation is the most important part of a proper diet, remember that lacking any of the multitude of vitamins and minerals your body uses puts undo stress on your body, while an over-abundance of any one thing does no good and can in fact be harmful as well.

  5. Go here for fun @ Salon.

    http://www.salon.com/2013/11/1…..nd_takers/

    1. No, I am not going to read that. Please summarize.

      1. Basically a communist calls for the confiscation of plutocratic wealth because contrary to the vision of Galt’s Gulch the masses could use their wealth for more ‘socially useful’ purposes than the rich

        1. So a sort of disguised ‘give me all your shit!’

          1. Where’s the disguise?

        2. If by “masses” you mean me, and if by “rich” you mean the New Aristocracy, AKA municipal, state and Federal Governments, then I agree 110%.

        3. Nobel Prize winner Herbert Simon estimates that a flat tax of 90% of income is justifiable because “social capital” accounts for 90% of income in developed countries. The Human Genome Project cost the government $3.8 billion but generated $796 billion in economic gains. The project is expected to bring about returns of 140 to 1 to the public. Research by Kenneth Flam finds that, “eighteen of the twenty five most important breakthroughs in computer technology between 1950 and 1962 were funded by the government, and in many cases the first buyer of the technology was also the government.” The Randian vision praises hedge fund managers, even though most hedge funds underperform the market. Social Darwinism praises the CEO even though the most highly-paid CEOs are often unsuccessful and many companies run fine without them. Society praises Zuckerberg, Brin and Dorsey, but it was DARPA that made their coding possible. Much of the research the government pursues isn’t profitable enough to merit the attention of private companies, or is simply too risky. Private space flight is only imaginable because the government went there first.

          YOU DIDN’T BUILD THAT!

          1. I like how “the government” is like some dude I owe money to because he’s so nice to me.

          2. The Human Genome Project cost the government $3.8 billion but generated $796 billion in economic gains.

            By this logic, the Soviet Union must have been the most prosperous nation the world has ever known.

          3. I suppose if you are going to set the metric around the time of the radical restructuring of nations along the central planning model, and clip off the years before that where interstate highways, ship yards, skyscraper blocks, canals and railways were the handiwork of private enterprise, and the years we have entered after that, where the behemoth of the state has collapsed upon itself, when it takes a decade to unscramble the bureaucratic mess the foundation reset at Ground Zero, you will be left with vastly outsized impression of the state’s value.

            1. the bureaucratic mess the foundation reset at Ground Zero

              Unscrambled, that’s suppose to be ‘the bureaucratic mess, just to reset the foundation at Ground Zero.’ Ironically, I clipped it to reorganize to a different part of the paragraph for a more logical flow.

          4. The Human Genome Project cost the government $3.8 billion but generated $796 billion in economic gains.

            Based on what? Sales? Production?

            Research by Kenneth Flam finds that, “eighteen of the twenty five most important breakthroughs in computer technology between 1950 and 1962 were funded by the government, and in many cases the first buyer of the technology was also the government.”

            What are the “25 most important breakthroughs in computer technology between 1950 and 1962” that could be called relevant today? Just because they were originally funded by government doesn’t mean a) they were sine qua non breakthroughs or that b) they could only exist because of government.

            Ponder on what this person is saying: That because there are some instances where government intervention led to good things, then the Ayn Rand vision is wrong. This is, however, a very long jump into a conclusion. There is no reason to believe that those things – the Genome Project, computers – can only be funded by government or that government made those projects come alive faster or better. In fact, it is more reasonable (and economically logical) to believe that the lack of a profit and loss test made the expense on those projects more protacted than needed to be, as researchers would have an interest in keeping the money spigot open.

            1. that would be “protracted”. Sorry.

            2. The government funds all kinds of research. Some of that stuff becomes successful and spurns further innovation. That’s because whatever it is that got funded, it was going to happen anyway, but the extra funding helped speed it up a bit. But that comes at the expense of a lot of funding that leads nowhere special.

            3. Because of the Government, we have sunlight and gravity.

            4. If the internet had not been commercialized we would be lucky to be arguing over dial-up right now

          5. “The Randian vision praises hedge fund managers”

            Fucking fuck. Is there one person who doesn’t like Rand who ever read anything of hers? A writer who’s biggest fictional heroes were an architect, an engineer and a railroad executive. I thought they all loved trains?

            1. Yeah, but their obsession with the evils of hedge fund managers is kind of cute. I would love to peak inside of their heads to see what hedge fund managers look like there. I imagine ferrets inside a ring fighting with razors on their claws.

            2. an architect, an engineer and a railroad executive? Don’t forget the other so-called Gods of our legends.

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SAHqsmHY0cU

          6. I love that part. Especially how the author fails to mention that Celera Genomics sequenced the genome in three years with 300 million. A tenth the cost in 1/5 the time.

          7. Research by Kenneth Flam finds that, “eighteen of the twenty five most important breakthroughs in computer technology between 1950 and 1962 were funded by the government …”

            Cherry picking dates here? I would like to know what the 25 “most important” and eighteen breakthroughs were because he seems to be digging pretty deep to support the government is great theme.

            The most important advances in that time period by a long shot were the integrated circuit (Texas Instruments and Fairchild Semiconductor) and the development of the Fortran language (IBM).

            I get so tired of the idiots trying to give the government credit for everything they through a few dollars at. Like Al Gore and the Internet. Never under estimate the ability of government to race to the head of the parade and claim credit.

          8. The Human Genome Project cost the government $3.8 billion

            In other words, everyone and everything involved in the project has already been paid. Why should they be paid further?

            If they wanted to reap profits, they should have issued stock in the venture.

          9. Private space flight is only imaginable because the government went there first.

            I guess this knob missed the part of his history lesson that they wouldn’t have even gotten to that point without the Wright brothers.

        4. Basically a communist calls for the confiscation of plutocratic wealth because contrary to the vision of Galt’s Gulch the masses could use their wealth for more ‘socially useful’ purposes than the rich

          So, uhh, exactly what Bertram Scudder and the Starnes siblings argued?

          Her prose was terrible and her plots kind of weak, but she fucking nailed the mentality (and even the speech) of the Left.

          1. Imagine if our government had applied such logic to cell phones in the late 90’s.
            “oh you don’t need better phones, first we need to make sure everyone gets a phone, then you can get a better phone.”

            We would still be thinking flip-phones were hot shit. Now I can buy 30 of ’em on Amazon for the same price one used to cost AND they come with a free fucking camera too.

            I shit you not look on Amazon you can buy pre-paid phones for a few bucks and free shipping for orders over $25

      1. You beat me to my own thought.

    2. Against my better judgment, I read that. That is spectacularly poorly reasoned, even by the standards of Salon.

  6. I’m planning a novel in which space aliens invade Earth, kill millions, devastate the planet, mysteriously leave afterwards (for no raisin), and everyone who remains alive is better off. The working title is Atlas Krugged.

    1. Wait, if they left because they were denied raisins, then it’s not really mysterious, now is it?

      1. So it’s like Harry Turtledove and ginger.

      2. You can’t deny anybody raisins; They might turn into a grape. And yes, I am going for the cutest kid.

        1. and now Im leaving here for no raisin!

    2. That sounds dangerously similar to my unpublished novel, Atlas Krumped.

      Just with less krumping.

      1. Atlas Twerked would be the contemporary version.

  7. Adrew Kirell is just jealous that Rand’s cock is bigger.

    1. I think Mises once referred to Rand as the most courageous man in America, which Rand took as a very flattering compliment.

  8. Anus Rand or Heiny Rand?

  9. “the Communist Chinese are insidiously taking over the American university system”

    This is actually true. They are replacing all the Ls with Rs and undermining education by always misunderstanding the syntax in how American students phrase questions.

  10. Is The Nation still a thing?

  11. Why don’t the Editors send Ham Fish a Christmas subscription?

  12. American middle class will destroyed if https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triffin_dilemma is not resolved.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.